Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bigelow Hollow State Park - Breakneck Pond Loop

The dog loves water and chasing sticks.
After a week of house guests, I was eager to make up for lost time on Monday.  Everything I tried was such a struggle.  Fallen branches and a downed tree interrupted a four-mile run.  Mosquitoes were biting once I got writing.  Exhaustion and a boulder of a headache rolled in.  Tuesday's progress on an article due August 25th was a welcome relief.  It has thankfully passed the kitty-litter stage--it was so repulsive I didn't want to pick it up.  

Mountain laurel was in bloom.  I've never really been fond of their bland color.
Yesterday's words of wisdom from an editor echoed in my head as I tried to sleep.  I might as well have been pacing the floor.           
"No one can teach writing, as they say. We all have to learn it on our own, alone at the desk. Only the tough, determined, and persistent can get through that! Remember that."

Walt went up and around, while I went right over the debris, in my typical manner.
The rougher side of the pond.
Why not turn the "Os" into a happy face?
June 28th, I pushed it hiking about 6.8 miles around Breakneck Pond at Bigelow Hollow State Park.  At the time, I figured I could do about 7 miles on the ankle I'd sprained a week or two before.  On the other side of the pond, loose rocks did a number on my foot as I picked my way across them.  By the time I got home, I was exhausted and the ankle was beat.  
While I was snapping a photo of the flowers, the mud-soaked dog  did the wet-dog shake all over my legs.     

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nipmuck Trail, Mansfield

Even dogs stop to admire the scenery.
During the outdoor around-the-world dinner at the conference (see prior post) I was fortunate to sit at a table with former and current editors of Time for Kids.  It was a great opportunity to ask questions about one project I'm working on.  I learned they weren't interested in submissions of this sort.  Wham!  Then I learned that this idea of mine wasn't going to work.  Double wham!  Despite the negative news, it has helped me reshape the idea into something better, something that I think will work.  I hope to finalize and ship out that unique project next week after my critique group meeting.

At the conference, I learned that kids like to see photographs of writers having fun.
Lately, vacation planning has been taking an inordinate amount of my time.  During the past two weeks I've booked three flights, a ferry, a train, and a hotel.  It has been a real challenge with bank credit card locks and other safeguards, online booking sites in a foreign language, Google translate, required phone fields that begin with +, and calling a foreign country.  Now I know why people take tours.  

We walked alongside the Fenton River.
 I've got a backlog of photographs to post.  This batch
This unknown species reminded me of a churro.
from the Nipmuck Trail dates back to April 18th.  The first time I tried this hike, I had a bug that made me come real close to losing lunch.  It was an enduring feat getting back to the car.  The second time, I hiked nearly nine miles.  Conquest!    

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference

What a lovely morning!
When I first started writing, my native language was COBOL.  I know that because recently I revised an article that I had written nearly a decade ago.  It was a really nice article, but lordy, it needed work.  Back in those early days of writing, I was a logical, orderly thinker because of my experience designing, coding and testing computer programs.  Given my thought process in those days, if I had known I was such a train wreck, I know I would not have pursued this challenging, competitive field.     

A male mallard duck waddled by the pond
At the 21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference, I heard over and over that back matter matters.  I first heard it from Jason Wells of ABRAMS.  Then I heard it at a lecture by bookstore owner, Jackie Kellachan and Amie Wright, New York City librarian.   I heard it again, when author, Stephen Swinburne spoke.  So, after returning, I spent a great deal of time plumping up the back matter in three picture book manuscripts.  
Ducks were sitting along the edge of the pond.  A turtle, the size of dinner plate, scurried in the water before I could snap a picture.
Saturday morning while I was at the conference, I made my way to the Student Union.  As I walked across the bridge between the ponds, the sun was out and the songbirds were singing in the brush.  Oh, how I wanted to go for a walk, but taking a walk was going to cost me.  It would cut social time and would likely fatigue my freshly sprained ankle.  I looked at the building, then at the ponds, then at the building again.  Thinking.  Pondering.  Deciding.  Was it worth the risk?

Sunday morning, I spotted this great blue heron on my way to the Student Union.